[UPDATED] Braves not Truist to their word on new tax handouts (via AJC)

The fact that the Atlanta Braves got a ton of cash from taxpayers to build their new ballpark is largely forgotten in the wake of the team’s World Series victory.

But there was an understanding when the Braves got $300 million-plus from Cobb County to construct its park: It was that the team, on its own nickel, would build all the affiliated restaurants, apartments and office towers ― AKA The Battery.

Mike Plant, the team’s development chief, promised this back in 2015 when he said, “We do not ask, nor do we intend to ask, for any incentives for the mixed-use part.”

Well, that was then.

Last week, the Bravos were up at the plate again looking for a second helping of taxpayer love. The team and their friends at Truist, the mega-bank with a silly name, approached the Cobb Development Authority with the latest scheme: a 10-year property tax break to help build a $200 million, 250,000-square-foot office tower overlooking Truist Park. … Read More

(via AJC)

UPDATE: “The Atlanta Braves and Truist Financial this past week withdrew their application for property tax breaks on a $200 million office tower at The Battery, Cobb County development officials confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

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Previously
“Atlanta” Braves seek millions more from Cobb County
Ted Turner on the Atlanta Braves’ move to Cobb County
2017 Atlanta Braves Season Preview
Braves finally strike a positive note in move to new stadium
The political costs of a new baseball stadium
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

You Took the Words Right Out of My Jam

Nobody hit that grand rock production sweet spot like Meat Loaf, who died yesterday at the age of seventy-four, and who, this now being the end of time for which no one prayed, Satan better hope is not coming his way. My first memory of Meat Loaf was an appearance at an MLB all-star game. (Google suggests it might be this one, but I’m not so sure.) When I later heard the original music he created with Jim Steinman, Prof. Roy Bittan, the Mighty Max Weinberg, and Todd Rundgren, with assists from Edgar Winter and Phil Rizzuto, it was almost impossible to believe it was real, and seeing that music presented in the context of the Rocky Horror Picture Show didn’t make it any easier to believe. Bat out of Hell, Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut, is punch in the face after punch in the face, and the title track and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” are knockouts. A decade and a half later, 1993’s Bat out of Hell II proved Loaf & Co. still had it, opening with comeback epic singalong “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do that).” (Full disclosure: this post is not sponsored by Dr Pepper.)

Meat Loaf’s memory can bear two selections, and these two heavy hitters will serve as this week’s Jam:

UPDATED: Playing the Fields: Justin, Jake, and Jacob

News broke last night that Justin Fields, Georgia’s number-two quarterback behind Jake Fromm, is considering a transfer. Initial reports indicated that he had decided to transfer, but follow-ups this morning have softened that somewhat. Still, from Fields’ perspective, a transfer makes some sense for the second overall recruit from the 2018 class who, thus far, has not overtaken Fromm and probably wants– and would receive– a starting opportunity at another top-tier program.

If Fields does leave after this season, he will be the second highly regarded QB to depart Athens under the Kirby Smart regime. Former starter Jacob Eason left after he lost the job to Fromm in the 2017 season, transferring to Washington (in his home state). He had to sit out the 2018 season, though he was allowed to practice with the Huskies and play on the scout team. Although Washington coach Chris Peterson told Eason during his high-school recruitment that, if Eason “ever needed to or had the opportunity to come home, he would have a place for” Eason, there obviously is no guarantee of a starting job for him in Seattle. In fact, a report yesterday shows that Eason will face a challenge from a former high-school rival, Dylan Morris, who will enroll early to begin the competition with Eason this spring. While the Seattle Times regards Eason as the presumptive starter– “of course”– for 2019, the report also notes that Eason will be one of five scholarship quarterbacks on campus this spring.

Even if Fields doesn’t have to sit out a year, something he obviously hopes to avoid even if it isn’t clear how he would do so under current NCAA rules, Eason’s situation should serve as a reminder that there are no certainties in college football.

The rest of us can occupy the moments between bowl games trying to guess if and, probably more significantly, where Fields might transfer. Some reading the tea leaves are seeing early indications that Fields is setting his sights on Columbus.

UPDATE: Fields has taken the necessary step to commence the transfer process. Coaches at other schools now are free to recruit him to join their programs without having to receive permission from UGA. It apparently is possible that the SEC still could restrict Fields’ ability to transfer within the conference, however.

UPDATE: Fields is transferring to Ohio State. The immediate reports do not indicate whether he’ll have to sit out a year, but I think that’s the reasonable expectation absent extraordinary circumstances.

“Atlanta” Braves seek millions more from Cobb County

The Atlanta Braves aren’t getting along well with their new neighbors. After the Cobb County government asked the team to cover $1.5 million in utility expenses the County says is due under the development agreement between the two, the Braves responded by demanding that the County pay the team another $4.6 million for various items, including:

  • $2.6 million for building permit fees the team says the County improperly assessed;
  • $1.5 million for transportation improvements; and
  • $500,000 for project-management expenses.

The development agreement requires the parties to resolve disputes through “private mediation,” and the news report indicates that they will proceed in that direction.

Cobb County taxpayers already paid $392 million to the Braves for SunTrust Park, plus more for necessary transportation improvements, and they are sending additional millions on ongoing basis for maintenance and other public services, such as police officers to assist with traffic management.

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Previously
Ted Turner on the Atlanta Braves’ move to Cobb County
2017 Atlanta Braves Season Preview
Braves finally strike a positive note in move to new stadium
The political costs of a new baseball stadium
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

Mercer favored over Georgia Tech in Honey Bowl XVI

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Bears like honey. Bees like honey. Tomorrow afternoon, Mercer and Georgia Tech will face off for the sixteenth time in the history of their in-state rivalry, and it already looks like the Baptists have beat the nerds at their own game. According to a just-released computer model, Mercer will prevail over Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium tomorrow by a 22-17 margin. A surprising result, most probably would agree, but a Mercer victory would not be unprecedented. In 1892, Georgia Tech opened its inaugural football season with a road loss to the Bears in Macon. The Yellowjackets won thirteen of the teams’ next fourteen matchups (the 1896 game in Atlanta ended in a tie), but they haven’t played each other since 1938 (Mercer’s football program was dormant between 1942 and 2012), so that 1892 game likely will loom large in the minds of both schools’ players.

Two other game notes: Bears coach Bobby Lamb has his own history of success against the Jackets, extending back to his days as a quarterback at Furman, and Tech will be without two of its running backs, who are suspended for team-rules violations.

ALDLAND will be live at this game, which kicks off at 3:00 tomorrow on the ACC Network.

The political costs of a new baseball stadium

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In his role as Cobb County Commission Chairman, Tim Lee probably thought that pushing through an expensive plan to relocate the Atlanta Braves from their downtown home to his northern suburban jurisdiction by skirting public referendum and delivering the pork for large business interests would, in return, lead to his reelection.

Once again, however, Lee has miscalculated. Challenger Mike Boyce, a retired Marine colonel, nearly defeated Lee outright in an election this spring. Boyce only secured forty-nine-percent of the vote, however, which sent him into a runoff election with Lee this summer.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explained last month, “Boyce’s candidacy is drawing on a deep well of resentment over the deal, which was struck in secret without a public vote.”

Last night, that resentment drove Boyce to victory. He toppled Lee by securing sixty-four-percent of the runoff vote.

This won’t reverse the new stadium deal, of course, but it may serve as a warning to other politicians who, in the future, contemplate similar boondoggles.

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Previously
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

New Braves stadium project continues to falter

One of the cited reasons for the unprecedented decision to relocate the Atlanta Braves from their downtown home at Turner Field to a new suburban stadium location in Cobb County was that the downtown location offered too little parking for fans. After the new stadium deal was approved, however, it was revealed that the new location would offer even less parking than currently available at Turner Field. That, together with Cobb County’s continued resistance to public transportation service, undoubtedly would render the new stadium less accessible than Turner Field.

Now comes news that, when it opens in 2017, SunTrust Park will be even less accessible to fans than previously thought. That’s because funding sources and political support for a bridge connecting the stadium to fan parking has dried up, if they ever existed.

The bridge is an unquestionable necessity, because the new stadium site sits at the intersection of I-75 and I-285, and the latter, obviously an extremely busy interstate highway, separates SunTrust Park from this fan parking. Here’s an approximate view from a June 2015 Google Maps capture:

285

While the new stadium will open in April 2017, according to the latest report, the earliest the bridge would be ready is September 2017. Even that late date may be optimistic, though, as it is completely unclear from available information that any reliable sources of funding– or even a consistent cost estimate– exist. Until the bridge is complete, fans will be left to ford the above-depicted urban river by their wits alone. Maybe a bicycle would help?

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Previously
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

Jordan Schafer returned to the Atlanta Braves as an outfielder this past season, and he has himself a very nice condo at the Downtown W. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a slideshow out today showing off Schafer’s residence. All’s well until you see how he’s decided to use his dual-mounted flat-screen televisions. This stopped me in my mouse-clicking tracks:

The man can watch anything in the world, and this is his selection? It doesn’t even make sense: these are the ESPN and ESPN2 simulcasts of two radio shows. Having both on TV at the same time seems at least impractical; at worst, that mirror thing offers more insight on the world than both of those TVs combined.

I love radio, and I love TV broadcasts of radio shows. Having done radio in the past, I love seeing the studio setups and silent communications that make a radio broadcast work. Maybe Schafer and I are alike in this way. If that’s true, though, he really ought to be watching the Dan Patrick Show, which has better content than either Mike & Mike or The Herd and offers a much richer viewing experience. Patrick’s show is a radio show, but it’s designed with a television audience in mind as well; with ESPN, the TV aspect feels like an afterthought.

From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

News broke Monday morning that the Atlanta Braves were planning to leave their downtown location at Turner Field and relocate to a new, as-yet-unbuilt stadium in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, near Marietta, Georgia. This is a bad idea.

First, to clear out my personal interest, I do not like this move because it means I will attend fewer games. I live and work in town. It is very easy for me to attend games, because I can take public transportation (MARTA) from my office or home and be at the park in roughly thirty minutes. As a result, I was able to attend about eight games this season (as mostly documented here), something that would not be feasible following the proposed move. For a few of the games, I had planned to attend long in advance and coordinated large blocks of tickets with friends. For probably most of them, though, plans came together at the last minute, and I was able to shoot off from work and make it there in time for the first inning. I was shocked, then happy, when I first realized how easy it was going to be for me to attend major league baseball games in my new city. It would be a great personal disappointment if I no longer had that accessible opportunity to attend games.

Even bracketing my subjective, selfish perspective, the proposed move is an objectively bad idea. Continue reading

Upton Abbey: Episode 7 – Dessert Seized

upton abbey banner

There will be extra baseball in Atlanta this year. The Braves clinched the NL East title over the weekend, ensuring themselves a postseason berth. With a few days left in the regular season, their potential playoff opponents include the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates(!), and Dodgers.

The good news: Jason Heyward is back in the lineup sooner than expected– thirty days after a New York Met fastball broke his jaw. In the last twenty-two games Heyward played before the injury, Atlanta was 18-4. They were 13-13 in the twenty-six games without him. Heyward may not be fully healed, but the team needs him back in the lineup, and bringing him back for these last few regular season games was the only way they could allow him to get back into playing mode before the playoffs begin.

Heyward_Braves_baseballThe odd news: As part of its remodeling effort, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution began offering a live, online feature for Braves games called Gametracker. It’s similar to ESPN’s online Gamecast product. Gametracker is a nice way to keep track of Braves games, but it seems odd that, as of last week, it would think relief pitcher Luis Ayala plays for the Orioles. First, Gametracker only tracks Braves games. Second, while Ayala did appear in two games for Baltimore this season, he’s appeared in thirty-five for the Braves, the team he joined in April of this year.

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Finally, third baseman Chris Johnson has been having a nice year at the plate. Way nicer than anyone expected or really can explain, in fact. One concern entering the playoffs is that, with the offense sputtering and his awareness of his potentially fluky success and the increased importance of that success to the team’s success, Johnson will start to overthink his plate appearances and squelch his offensive proficiency.

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Previously
Episode 6 – I Can See Clearly Now?
Episode 5 – Guess Who’s Not Coming To Dinner
Episode 4 – A Three-Course Meal
Episode 3 – Hosting Royalty
Episode 2 – Lords of the Mannor
Episode 1 – Beginning, as we must, with Chipper